When I first saw a commercials for Jinn, I thought that Tobe Hooper’s long-shelved film was getting a U.S. release and the “D” was dropped from the title for some reason. Maybe “Djinn” didn’t test well with the kids or something so they changed the name to Jinn. But Ajmal Zaheer Ahmad’s Jinn is a different movie and, bear with me guys, it’s pretty fucking cool. I know the marketing looks whack and it’s never a good sign when there are no advanced screenings, but it turned out to be the perfect Friday night flick.
Jinn vibes like a big budget episode of Supernatural or a fan film made by a rich kid. It’s absolutely ridiculous in parts, overly melodramatic in others, and it sets the depiction of women in film back a few decades, but if you’re in the mood for some well-crafted silliness, consider watching Jinn (preferably while drinking gin, which will elevate the experience, I’m sure).
The film’s wickedly moody prologue features a hunky warrior monk guy tracking down a stinky old jinn in 1901 India. As the folklore goes, the jinn were created at the same time as human beings, but they grew jealous that God favored mankind, so they vow to destroy the world (I think). The warrior monk fights this evil jinn, that looks like a skinny version of the Uruk-hai from Lord of the Rings, but with moves like Dhaslim from Street Fighter II. He vows to slaughter each generation of the monk’s offspring, which seems excessive because once one offspring is killed, wouldn’t that end the bloodline? But hey, I’m not a jinn. I don’t know how these bastards think.
The film then jumps to present day Ann Arbor, Michigan. Shawn (Dominic Rains) is a descendant of the warrior monk, though he’s completely clueless to his jinn-slaying heritage. He works as a graphic designer, with a focus on comic book characters, I think. It’s never really explained, except for a crazy fast car he designed called the “Firebreather.” It turns out to be crucial later in the film because it can outrun a jinn. People think they’re hot shit when their Camaro or supercharged Range Rover can smoke a cop car, but try pacing a jinn, bro.
His wife Jasmine (Serinda Swan) is really gorgeous, but an awful representation for women. In only a couple minutes on screen, she manages to burn dinner, then tell Shawn it’s okay if he wants to screw another woman because she can’t have babies. Being a ride or die chick is one thing, but cool off for a second, Jasmine. For the rest of the film, she’s useless while Shawn does his jinn slaying thing.
Ahmad establishes a fairly interesting creation mythology, but brushes it aside for a run-of-the-mill “you are the chosen one, here’s a magic dagger, let Ray Park protect you” kinda thing. It’s the same shit we’ve seen before, but Jinn offers it up in a glossy package with fine cinematography and some wicked fun set pieces. Park (better known as Darth Maul) plays Gabriel, an kung-fu angel who gets to throw down in one of the most absurd fight sequences I’ve seen in a long time. He rumbles with like 50 patients at a sanitarium and it all goes down in slow motion with orbs of light surrounding him. It resembles a special move from a Capcom fighting game. I loved it.
The movie’s budgetary constraints are apparent in nearly every frame, but I kinda dug what Ahmad was able to pull off regardless. The folklore suggests that the jinn are a global threat, yet the film is condensed to this small town, giving the film a Stephen King feel. Shawn’s story is a standard superhero origin one, though he only gets to kick ass really once.
I’m really not sure how serious we’re supposed to take this movie. All I know is I had a good fucking time watching it. There’s a jinn vs. car chase, Ray Park doing some magic martial arts shit, mystical daggers, fire men, a booming original score, and it’s paced at breakneck speed. Give it a shot before you roll your eyes at me, Professor Highbrow.
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